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More from Thunder Run:
Just south of the spaghetti junction, beyond the row of greenhouses on the west side of the highway, Yusef Taha and his brother Ziad were huddled in the rear downstairs room of their two-story stucco home in the shade of the nursery awnings. The Taha brothers owned one of the greenhouses, which had been shredded by coax from the Rogue Bradleys two days earlier. They had stayed in the war zone to protect their house - not from the Americans but from the Syrian mercenaries who had arrived several days earlier to seize control of the entire greenhouse complex. The brothers knew that if they fled, the Syrians would have set up sniper's nests on their roof, drawing tank rounds that would have flattened their modest little home. So now they were hunkered down inside with twelve family members - aunts and uncles, in-laws and children - praying that the Americans would pass by quickly and leave their house intact.
Yusef was a heavyset forty-two-rear-old, with a thick mustache and the beginnings of a beard. Ziad was twenty-six, thin and handsome and had a trimmed mustache. The brothers had pleaded with the Syrians, begging them to find some other place to fight the Americans. But the Syrians said the greenhouses and nurseries occupied a strategic stretch of territory along the Hillah Highway - Highway 8 - controlling access to the airport and to the government palace complex downtown. They set up RPG teams inside the greenhouses, joined by Republican Guard troops in their dark green uniforms with distinctive maroon insignias. It seemed to the Taha brothers that the Syrians were in charge. They were certainly more fanatic and energized than the Republican Guards. They spoke often of jihad, of dying while killing American infidels. Some of them strapped packs of explosives to their chests and spoke of ramming suicide cars into the tanks and Bradleys. Some of them brandished swords, like Saladin, the Arab conqueror. The brothers did not particularly welcome the American invasion - and certainly not the devastating firepower brought to bear on their nursery business - but they resented the Syrians, who were invaders in their own right.
It's beyond tragic to be caught in a crossfire between two factions, neither of which you support, and both of which see you and your life's belongings as expendable. But it's not questionable which side would have most liked to see the Taha brothers destroyed:
Colonel Raaed Faik was riding with fellow Republican Guard officers on a civilian bus thirty-two kilometers northeast of Baghdad that morning, trying to obey an order to rush to Baghdad to join in the defense of the city. They were to help keep Highway 8 open for a counterattack. Faik was a senior signal officer in the Republican Guard, but he was dressed now in civilian clothes. The chief of staff had radioed an order for this division to fight without uniforms in hopes of mounting an effective guerilla war against the American forces on the streets of Baghdad. But some officers had not received the order, and they were still in their uniforms. They bickered with the plainclothes officers over how to dress for the battle.
Faik was disgusted. He took pride in being a member of an elite unit, but now they were like women trying to decide what outfits to wear. They were fools led by imbeciles.
Civilian clothing, civilian vehicles (often including ambulances) - all to one purpose: kill unwitting Americans who would hesitate to harm civilians or force them to adapt a "shoot first" attitude that would result in true civilian casualties, leading to a predictable response from a press that was demonstrably sympathetic to Saddam's cause.
Now, riding on the bus toward Baghdad on the morning of April 7, Faik was convinced he was being sent into the city to be slaughtered. For weeks, the military command had been preparing for a siege of the capital. Faik and other commanders had been told to prepare to fight street by street against American infantry units they expected to parachute in or unload from helicopters. They even named the units - the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division. Iraqi forces would fight them from bunkers and rooftops and alleyways, taking advantage of the familiar urban terrain. A long siege would produce steady American casualties and the United States would be forced by American public opinion to negotiate a truce.
Emphasis added. Saddam's strategy was built on a well-founded hope: hold out long enough so that those crying "another Vietnam" in America would have time to ensure that that was indeed what Iraq became. As events then and now have demonstrated, he had not misjudged that sizable minority of the American public. But the US plan was to topple his regime swiftly, and it worked, and he was denied the benefit of their support while in power.
But in spite of that victory, Americans and Iraqi citizens alike suffer daily from attacks by remnants of the regime and foreigners seeking jihad. Factor in a hostile press and a sizable group of Americans determined to uphold the traditions of Jane Fonda, the Chicago Seven, and the many (ahem) other members of that old crowd and you'll understand the poster to the side of this page: This war's not won by a damn sight. Indeed, current events in Baghdad and Beslan make that all too clear. Tomorrow's history is being written, and what happens next, as they so often say, remains to be seen.
(Although this part of history is ready for reading. Enjoy.)
Have finished reading Unfit for Command. Kerry committed treason while in the Navy Reserves and peole want to elect him to lead our country????
The FBI has extensive files on his trips to Paris to meet with the enemy. The DOD is now researching his records to see why his webpage indicates he got a V with his silver star--an award the Navy never gives with a s.star to anybody. This is one shady character and I sincerely wonder is the USA can survive 4 years of this liar.